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"Physical fitness gives me mental fitness" - Hans Geessink on what draws him to Surfing For Farmers

Category better-together our-place

It takes sheer will to break through the wave, Raglan’s wild west coast is living up to its reputation today. His arms pounding, Hans leans back on his board for a moment to take it all in. The sun warm on his face, the smell of salty ocean, the buzz of laughter and frustration as he watches his fellow farmers take each wave with enthusiasm and determination. He takes a breath, knowing he will master this in time. In his first season with Surfing For Farmers, Hans shares what this event means to him.

Hans Geessink holding his surfboard


Sports is a huge passion for Hans Geessink — a dairy farmer in Waitoa — with time away from the farm often spent doing fitness-based activities like skiing or biking. 


"Physical fitness gives me mental fitness," Hans says.


Previously, Hans was involved in all the daily running of the farm, and that often left him with little ability to have time off or away. Thankfully, he now has a better balance with additional help on the farm that means he can have more breathing space. Finding time for mental wellbeing can be quite a challenge for a lot of farmers.


Getting the opportunity to take a break with some physical activity is what drew him to the events. Having been to three events, Hans is just starting out on his Surfing For Farmers journey, but he's been to sessions at Pauanui and Raglan - making the most of being able to see the east and west coast beaches.


"It's a nice atmosphere. You see it in the expressions of those attending that they like it - you're all one. When you’re there on the beach and in the water, you forget all the pressure from the farm right away."


Hans recalls talking with others at the events, "It's nice chatting with others about their circumstances.  And they were interested in my circumstances, and the reason I was there." Being a dairy farmer, he adds that it’s also been great to meet people working in horticulture, and that these events open up networks across industries into horticulture and agriculture as well. 


With Surfing for Farmers continuing until the end of March, Hans said he’ll definitely be attending more events.


Sporting means a lot to him, and he has a healthy competitive side which drives him to want to be better at the art of surfing, "I'm determined to not be just a beginner".


"In general with sport, I am fairly good. But with surfing, I have not gone much further than just trying. I'm really keen not be just a beginner.”


Hans is excited about being able to achieve his personal goal of better control with the surfboard.


"Through Surfing For Farmers I am determined with that little assistance, with that help, to bring myself to a higher level, and then I can say, 'Yes, I did it!'”


The events provide farmers and agricultural workers with a much needed opportunity to take time off the farm and attendees are provided with everything the need to get out into the water.


Hans explains that it's been fantastic having these events facilitated to encourage, and make it possible, for farmers to learn surfing.


"It's still that fact that you jump on the board and are able to stay on it and that gives you a thrill,” he says.


"It was in Pauanui when I was first able to stay standing. And then I knew that I had to do that more. It gave me a buzz".


For anyone yet to go to an event or try out Surfing For Farmers, Hans has an inspirational message to share that catches the spirit of the events.


"It doesn't matter what your function on the farm is, what kind of issues you have on the farm or off the farm, you're all one. You all want to enjoy what you're doing and you will."


"Doesn't matter if you're a share milker or an owner, you're all equal. You want to create happiness and happiness is there on the water and afterwards with the BBQ."


Surfing for Farmers is a fantastic initiative that's aimed at helping farmers take time away from the farm to support their mental wellbeing. Events are run from November to the following March. There's surfing, a BBQ, and other farmers to chat with, not to mention a beautiful beach backdrop.  For more information and event dates visit our Surfing For Farmers page or follow @Surfing for Farmers on Facebook for the latest event updates.


We are also giving away 22 Barron surfboards made of wool, see T&C’s here.